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Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne by Scottish Poet Robert Burns

Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne, the traditional song of midnight on New Year's Eve. As one year ends and another begins hundreds of thousands of people will be singing this song as they raise their glasses toasting in the New Year.

Not everyone really knows the words and there are many variations sung at midnight, some actually humorous and not at all reflective of the mood Burns was trying to create.

Painting of Robert Burns


Some things to remember. The song was first written in the 1700's. Robert Burns was Scottish. Put these two facts together and you will better understand why the words sound so "foreign".

"Auld" for example means "old" but more in a "gone-by" way. The expression "Auld Lang Syne" is actually said to mean "Times Gone By".

Now when you sing "We'll take a cup of kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne" it means a little more.

Auld Lang Syne became a New Year's Eve standard in 1929 when Ontario born Guy Lombardo, the son of Scottish immigrant parents and his band, the Lombardo Brothers sang it at a New Year's Eve party in New York City. It has been a staple ever since.

Craig Shepperly explained some of the language and customs of the classic song Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, Scotland's National Poet, at the 2012 Robert Burns Dinner put on by the Scottish Heritage Association of Northeast Ohio (SHANO).

Lyrics in the original Scottish are very difficult to translate perfectly, so there are many adaptations. What most of us sing is actually a combination of the original and the translation. This one seems to be accepted by many:

Original

AULD LANG SYNE

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,

We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'1l be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!

And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;

But we've wander'd mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!

And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

Translation

Times Gone By

Should old acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot
for the sake of Times Gone By?

Chorus

For old Times Gone By,
my dear For Times Gone By

We will take a cup of kindness yet,
For Times Gone By

We two have run about the hillsides,
And pulled the daisies fine,

But we have wandered many a weary foot,
For Times Gone By

We two have paddled in the stream,
From noon until dinner time,

But seas between us broad have roared,
Since Times Gone By

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,

And we will take a goodwill drink,
For Times Gone By.

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine

And we will take a cup of kindness yet,
For Times Gone By.


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